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Cambodia, also known as Kampuchea, is just above the alluvial
plain of the Mekong River. In the rainy season, the flood waters back into the Tonle Sap.
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Countries neighbouring Cambodia are: Thailand,
Laos and Vietnam.
Many travellers use the water to reach Angkor Wat from
the capital, Phnom Penh.
The capital of Cambodia is situated in the southern part of the
country, where the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers meet.
The Khmers established a settlement here in the late 14th century.
Phnom Penh was abandoned and reoccupied several times before it became
Cambodia's capital in 1867.
The civil war of the mid- 1970s tore the city apart; most of its 1
million inhabitants were forced to evacuate Phnom Penh and move to the countryside as
The city was resettled during the 1980s, and some of its cultural and
educational institutions reopened.
Once a picturesque Asian city with a French colonial atmosphere, Phnom
Penh is slowly attracting tourists again.
Phnom Penh Post:
Cambodia's independent news and views.
Weather in Asia:
Local weather forecasts for destinations around Asia.
Phnom Penh, like other Cambodian tourist destinations, is in the
midst of rapid change.
Over the past few years the number of restaurants and hotels has grown
considerably and in the last year there has been a huge increase in the number of
visitors. There are now direct daily flights from several Asian cities and four overland
border crossings have opened since 1998.
While in Phnom Penh you can visit the palaces of former rulers of
Cambodia and numerous Buddhist temples, or wats.
The Royal Palace, the official residence of King Norodom Sihanouk, and
many other buildings in Phnom Penh are decorated in the Khmer architectural style and use
such Hindu motifs as the garuda; a mythical symbolic bird.
Wat Phnom is one of the capital's major landmarks. Monkeys live in the
trees around the hill, and elephant rides are a popular Sunday event.
The Tuol Sleng museum was once a high school, taken over by Pol Pot's
security forces and turned into the infamous Security Prison 21.
Compare Cambodia Hotel Prices
Kep, Koh Kong, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville.
The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek should never be forgotten.
The mass graves of those sent here from the S-21 prison were exhumed
in 1980. More than 8,000 skulls of those beaten to death have been arranged behind glass
screens according to age and sex.
The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek are about 15 km south-west of
downtown Phnom Penh.
There's one main reason the small town of Siem Reap has become a
Angkor Wat and the other temples are among the world's most
magnificent historical monuments.
Angkor Wat's archaeological significance and overall impact on the
visitor puts it in a class with sites like the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal and Machu Pichu.
Unlike so many other world class monuments, Angkor Wat, Bayon and the
other ruins are as yet unspoiled by commercialism and over-development.
Accommodation in Siem Reap
Small, family-run guesthouse in Siem Reap. Simon Tufts and Rachel Band, both from the UK,
offer 13 rooms (9 en suite and 4 shared bathrooms) in a French colonial style Khmer villa
on the East bank of the Siem Reap River, opposite the royal gardens.
The old capital of the Khmer kingdoms of Cambodia, at Angkor, is
the site of Hindu and Buddhist temple complexes: Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.
Each Khmer king built his own temple based on the Hindu concept of the
god-king; with himself depicted as the deity.
Angkor Wat was built under King Suryavarman II, who reigned from 1113
to 1150. He intended the temple to present him as the incarnation of Vishnu.
Angkor Wat may well have been the downfall of the Khmer.
Faced with invasion by the kingdom of Champa, faith was no longer held
in the power of the Hindu gods to protect.
King Jayavarman VII, who reigned from 1181 to 1219 and toppled the
Champa, was a Mahayana Buddhist. He created a vast monument to the north of Angkor Wat.
Angkor Thom, designed with Buddhist cosmology in mind, was meant
to surpass Angkor Wat. The enormous face likeness on the Bayon represent both the almighty
Buddha and the king himself.
Succeeding rulers defaced the monuments by destroying earlier effigies
and adding their own in Hindu-inspired iconoclasm.
The Thais invaded in 1431, and devastated the area, but the decaying
Angkor Wat remains a centre of Buddhist pilgrimage.
Beginning in the 1860s the French made extensive research and
reclamation of the Ankor area, but looting and civil war have added to the neglect and
deterioration of the monuments.
Also known as Batdambang, Battambang is an ancient Khmer city with
In the west of Cambodia, Battambang was a part of Siam, now Thailand, from 1794 to 1907 and from 1941 to 1946.
Tropical getaway, port community, fledgling resort town; all
describe Sihanoukville, Cambodia's 'second city'.
Whereas the temples of Siem Reap are the country's top tourist magnet
and Phnom Penh is the commercial centre, the unspoiled beaches and relaxed atmosphere of
Sihanoukville are just now being discovered.
The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and International Cooperation has launched e-Visa, which enables you to apply
for a Cambodia tourist visa online.
Instead of applying through a Cambodian Embassy, just complete the
online application form and pay with your credit card.
After receiving your visa through e-mail, print it out and take it
along when you travel to Cambodia.
Official Kingdom of Cambodia e-Visa
Tourist visa is valid for 3 months (starting from the date of issue).
Care needs to be taken not to stray from the main routes, as the
countryside has not been totally cleared of landmines.
Buses are crowded, so you may prefer to join others and share a taxi.
There is a bus from Phnom Penh to Vietnam.
A railway between Phnom Penh and Battambang also continues north-east
to the Thai border. Another rail line connects Phnom Penh with the port of Kampong Saom
An interesting way to get to Siem Reap, Siamese Defeated, for a visit
to Angkor. Ferries leave Phnom Penh to Phnom Krom, about 25km south of Siem Reap. The trip
involves an overnight stay at Kompong Chhnang. There is also an irregular faster service.
Royal Air Cambodge is the national airline. There are a number of
domestic services around the country. Of interest to most visitors is the half hour flight
from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.
China Southern Airlines also offer a twice weekly schedule between Guangzhou and Phnom Penh: Flights from Guangzhou to Phnom Penh depart
every Monday and Friday at 10:00 a.m. and arrive at 11:20 a.m. Flights departing Phnom
Penh leave at 12:10 p.m. and arrive in Guangzhou at 3:30 p.m. Check the schedules.
90 Days in Cambodia:
Informative travelogue, with good photographs, of Marcel Stoessel's visit to Cambodia July
- October 1998. Some pictures may be deemed disturbing, and the pages are large.
Beauty and Darkness:
Articles and essays on the recent history of Cambodia, as well as several trip journals
from various authors, written between 1991 and 2000.
The official language of Cambodia is Khmer.
The French language was used in colonial times, but is not more so
widespread; the Coca Cola culture is creeping in amongst the youth.
Theravada Buddhism is the main religion of Cambodians, although
Hinduism has had an important cultural and historical influence.
Carpe Diem Travel:
Small group discovery tours to Cambodia. By avoiding sanitised, impersonal tourist traps;
choosing friendly, locally-run hotels and guesthouses; organising overland travel that
takes you through the deepest Cambodian countryside; and employing trusted local people,
Carpe Diem Travel offers the kind of experience normally only tasted by seasoned
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